The Swarm

June 04, 2008

R. Kelly bombshell: Former manager and Aaliyah's uncle Barry Hankerson was the source...Jim DeRogatis in 2002: 'I'm sure that tape came by B.H.'

David Prince

Yesterday, the Daily Swarm speculated about who delivered the videotape at the center of the R. Kelly child pornography trial to the Sun Times’ Jim DeRogatis. Today, a newly released interview transcript from 2002 seems to confirm that R. Kelly’s former manager and uncle of Aaliyah, Barry Hankerson, is the person who brought the singer down.

The Sun Times just published the entire transcript of Jim DeRogotis’ 2002 interview with Stephanie “Sparkle” Edwards, the aunt of the girl who allegedly appears on the videotape at the center of the R. Kelly child pornography trial. This transcript is the “interview notes” that Judge Vincent Gaughan today insisted the newspaper turn over to the court while excusing DeRogatis from testifying. Much of what she said then was repeated in her own testimony before the jury, but some additional details are now public for the first time ever, including DeRogatis’ own thoughts about who exactly delivered the videotape to his mailbox.

Although the source is identified only by the initials “B.H.,” its clear the reference is to Barry Hankerson, R. Kelly’s former manager and the uncle of deceased pop star Aaliyah (who was briefly and controversially betrothed to Kelly when she was just 15 years old).

From Jim DeRogatis’ newly published 2002 interview with Stephanie “Sparkle” Edwards:

Q. What do you think happened with Aaliyah???

A. Speculating? It happened. I have an ex-friend who was on the road with him when he was R. Kelly and Public Announcement. He saw what was going on. He quit the group because of that.

Q. I just want to know… [B.H.] is partly motivated by he’s tired of seeing young girls get hurt…

A. I’m sure. A lot of people would agree.

Q. But is it partly that [B.H.] wants revenge for the whole Aaliyah thing? ??

A. I don’t know. I’m sure he would tell ya. He’d have no problem telling you.

Q. He never has. I’m sure that tape came by [B.H.]. Not directly. He’s wondering about the police investigation.

In a 2004 interview with the Guardian, DeRogatis described the chain of events:

After drawing comparison between R Kelly and Marvin Gaye in a review, DeRogatis received an anonymous fax, clearly from someone associated with the singer, intimating that Gaye’s libidinous antics were nothing compared to the goings-on at camp Kelly. DeRogatis made inquiries and wrote a report in December 2000, airing a number of rumours about Kelly. The paper received no lawsuit from Kelly’s label or lawyer.

DeRogatis approached Stephanie Edwards when writing his initial piece, having received a tip-off about Kelly and her niece, but she declined, thinking the allegations nonsense. Eleven months later, Edwards called DeRogatis back. She had seen the video. ‘She was hysterical and in tears. She didn’t know what to do. She’d called the police and the division of children’s services and broke down, saying to me “It’s all true.”

A couple of weeks later, DeRogatis got a call to go to his mailbox. ‘And there was the videotape, unmarked, no note, no anything. I sat with Stephanie and showed her the tape and said “Is this what you saw?” and she broke down and said “Yes it is” and then as soon as we knew what we had, we turned it over to the police. This was evidence of a felony.’ Kelly was indicted.

The newly released interview transcript seems to confirm that R. Kelly’s former manager Barry Hankerson is the person responsible for having the videotape delivered to the Chicago Sun Times which, in turn, led directly to the criminal child pornography charges for which Kelly now stands trial.

UPDATE: As we noted yesterday, Kelly himself sure seemed to think Hankerson was responsible for the tape going public, as he said in an interview with Chicago’s NBC News the day after the story of the tape broke:

“I have an ex-manager, you know, that I let go awhile ago. And ever since these people have been trying to come at me and trying to blackmail me. The reason these things are happening, I really do believe, is because of the fact that I didn’t fall back as far as blackmail is concerned. I didn’t give them any money,” Kelly said.

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